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Man dressed as woman accused of stealing 13 drills

BY Brae Canlen

Authorities are investigating a theft ring involving two men — one who disguised himself as a woman — who may have targeted Home Depot stores in three states, according to an article in The Daily Oklahoman.

Police in Gonzales, La., arrested Marquis Lamar Bennett and Curtis Ray Lusk, both 20 years old, on April 25 in connection to a series of alleged shoplifting incidents in Texas and Oklahoma. Authorities said the men may be connected to an incident where 13 drills, valued at $3,177, were taken from a Home Depot store in Edmond, Okla. One of the men dressed as a woman during the theft, police said. They entered the store, loaded their baskets with power tools and ran out to a car that was waiting for them.

Four similar thefts were reported in Texas and one in Oklahoma City, the newspaper reported.

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Charitable giving: Lowe’s helps schools

BY Ken Clark

Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation has awarded more than $2.3 million in Spring 2012 Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grants to 543 schools in 47 states. 

The grants were given to schools and parent organizations for parent-initiated, school-improvement projects. 

“Lowe’s commitment of $2.3 million to Toolbox for Education grants underscores our dedication to education throughout the country,” said Marshall Croom, chairman of Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation. “These funds will go a long way to improve the future for thousands of children in 543 schools throughout the United States. These dollars will help close the funding gaps our schools face and help expedite needed improvements and upgrades.” 

The projects funded during the spring grant period include technology and safety improvements, library renovations, walking trails, greenhouses, outdoor learning environments and more.

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A bill seeks reform of lead-paint rules

BY Ken Clark

The Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012 seeks to reduce burdens placed on home remodelers.

Applauded by the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA), the bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives would reform the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) Rule. 

The new bill — H.R. 5911 — was introduced Thursday by Reps. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) and Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and would reduce the burdens of the rule on the home remodeling and retrofit market, while maintaining protections for pregnant women and small children from lead hazards. Similar NLBMDA-supported legislation (S.2148) was introduced in the Senate in March.

"The NLBMDA and our members have worked tirelessly to reform the misguided EPA lead rule, and the introduction of legislation in the House of Representatives shows that our industry concerns are being heard on Capitol Hill," said NLBMDA chair Cally Fromme, executive VP of Zarsky Lumber in Victoria, Texas. "We commend Congressmen Sullivan and Murphy and appreciate their leadership on this issue. We will make passage of this bill a top priority." 

The existing LRRP rule requires renovation work in pre-1978 homes to follow rigorous and costly work practices supervised by an EPA-certified renovator. In July 2010, the EPA removed the "opt-out" provision from the rule that allowed homeowners without children under age 6 or pregnant women residing in the home to allow their contractor to forego the use of the arduous work practices required by the rule. The removal of the opt-out provision doubled the number of homes subject to the rule, and the EPA has estimated that this amendment will add more than $336 million per year in compliance costs to the regulated community, including homeowners.

In addition, the EPA has failed to approve a commercially available test kit producing no more than 10% false positives, in violation of its own rules.  The lack of EPA-compliant test kits has resulted in some consumers paying for unnecessary work because of false positive test results.

Among its key provisions, H.R. 5911 would restore the "opt-out" clause, suspending the LRRP if EPA cannot approve a commercially available test kit.

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